This is a checklist of questions & acceptable answers you should study before hiring a digital marketing agency.
Questions to Ask BEFORE you choose a Marketing Partner:
1. What kind of research do you do before accepting or starting a project?
If your digital marketing agency does a full website audit to determine what they have to work with and what challenges they will need to overcome,
you’re off to a good start.
If they ask you about your competitors and your target market, and the geographic area you are trying to penetrate, your previous campaigns, etc... that may indicate a sincere intent to focus on your bottom line.
2. In-House or Outhouse?
This industry is full of talented people from around the world.
If your provider uses off-shore resources for some technical tasks, that’s fine.
However so much of your web presence is predicated on content so be careful if they use non-native speaking folks for any content related services such as SEO, social media and content marketing.
3. How much do you charge for your services?
If they answer before they develop a strategy, beware any answer that isn’t a range of fees. Estimating a range of fees in the early stages is
If it seems unusually low, ask them what they intend to do. Even if their low fees match their intended strategy you may still be wasting time and money if you don’t get the results you need.
If it’s too high, there still may be room to restrategize and focus on the “big” things or strategies that get quick results that you can reinvest into a full program later.
4. Will you manage all of my digital programs?
It isn’t just about a beautiful website or Search Engine Optimization any more, it’s about the overall Web Presence Optimization.
Site, search and social are now inextricably codependent. Only when all elements of of your online presence are taken into consideration, a digital marketing strategy can be successful.
The interrelationship is such that it is now advantageous for a firm to develop a 360° strategy so they can coordinate the entire effort. Click
on the map on the left to see all details.
That is assuming your digital marketing agency has the necessary resources and knowledge (another question to ask) in all areas.
5. Is this a one-time service or an ongoing program?
Unless you are a local business in
a non-competitive industry looking to show up in the local search results, one-time upgrades are essentially useless in the long term.
You might enquire about a highbred program where the agency takes care of all the set-up, technical issues and strategy and trains your staff.
When combined with an on-going consultation program, that can be effective for smaller businesses, Inbound marketing is a forever process, so if it’s in your marketing budget, you might want to leave it to the professionals who have the resources, and can stay on top of the ever-changing digital landscape.
6. How often do we stay in touch?
This is a variable based on the types and level of services provided along with the current stage of the project.
For example, during a website development project it may require several touch points each week until the creative work has been approved.
With search engine optimization work, monthly reporting and follow-up discussions would be the minimum.
Look for an “open door” policy where you can quickly schedule clarification meetings as necessary.
7. How do you handle link building?
There are many theories and methods of generating backlinks for SEO purposes.
Many optimizers advocate the process of “Link Earning” that is predicated on producing quality content that other websites and blogs actually want to link to.
Other firms take a more aggressive approach.
Make sure your agency doesn’t use “spammy” techniques that will get your website penalized.
Bad link building practices hurt more than good link building helps.
8. What do you consider quality content?
Quality content is original content that has never been previously published on the Internet which actually adds value to your target market.
It focusses on a specific topic that you want to get found for.
Old regurgitated content (spun content) or duplicate content does not impress the search engines.
9. How do you measure success?
A quality analytics system such as Google Analytics, gShift Labs or HubSpot is essential.
Discuss what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) make the most sense for your company.
It may simply be an increase in visitors or more granular conversions such as email, phone calls, submitted forms or transactions.
Do not fixate on Keyword placement. There is much more to it than that.
10. Do you claim and optimize my business on directories?
Citations are mentions of your business by NAP (Name Address Phone number) across local and major directories throughout the Internet and have
a great deal of influence on local business search results in particular.
Do they claim, optimize and report your citations on a regularly scheduled basis?
11. How do you report and manage paid advertising?
In the right hands paid advertising such as Pay-Per-Click, Retargeting and Social Media advertising can have amazing results.
It can also be a black hole if not managed properly. Ask them if you can have a live demonstration of how they go about the process.